Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Jack Jones

Kansas City Royals -118

I know I've backed the Royals quite a bit of late, but there's no reason to stop now when they're showing this good of value.  Plus, they are an MLB-best 22-5 since July 22 to climb into first place in the AL Central Division.  They have shown no signs of slowing down, either.

Danny Duffy has been a big part of one of the best rotations in baseball.  The left-hander has posted a 2.60 ERA and 1.091 WHIP over 19 starts and six relief appearances this year.  Duffy is 5-5 with a 2.52 ERA and 1.038 WHIP in 10 road starts as well.

Colorado (49-76) has the worst record in the National League and nothing to play for.  Jorge De La Rosa has been its best starter, but that's not saying much.  De La Rosa has gone 12-8 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.235 WHIP this season.  He sports a 5.03 ERA in his last three starts as well.

Duffy is 12-1 (+10.7 Units) against the money line as a favorite of -110 or higher over the last two seasons.  The Royals are 5-0 in Duffy's last five starts.  Kansas City is 52-22 in its last 74 games as a favorite of -110 to -150.  The Rockies are 24-60 in their last 84 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.  Colorado is 13-42 in its last 55 interleague games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

SPORTS WAGERS

N.Y. Mets +180 over OAKLAND

Oakland GM Billy Beane went all-in when he included top prospect Addison Russell in the trade for Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija has done well in his first exposure to the AL, turning in a 3-2 record with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts. It’s not surprising to see Samardzija emerge as an ace starter. While his strikeout rate is down a bit, his swing and miss rate remains strong so a rebound to previous levels is likely. Samardzija’s control is much improved with just seven walks in 56 IP. His high ERA last year was partly due to hr/f; it’s normalized in 2014. He also continues his transformation into a groundball pitcher. There is no question that Samardzija and the A’s have a very good chance of winning here but anytime we can take back a tag like this one with Zack Wheeler throwing, we’ll bite almost every time.

Wheeler faces an Oakland team that is batting a measly .233 since they traded offense for pitching. Wheeler has shown flashes this season of becoming an ace. He posted a outstanding skills in April and in July. Spotty control has held him back, as he has averaged 4BB/9 in three separate months. However, his combination of strikeouts 8 K’s/9 all season and groundballs (54%+ GB% in three months), Wheeler has the goods to become a rotation anchor. Over his last six starts covering 39 innings, Wheeler has struck out 40 batters and posted a 2.33 ERA. His last loss as a starter came way back on June 25 and since then the Mets have won six of his nine starts. Now he’s taking back a huge price, which is value at its best. 


L.A. Angels -1½ +126 over BOSTON

The Red Sox had their chances last night to take a game in this series after Jered Weaver walked four batters, threw a wild pitch, struck out one and allowed 7 hits in 5.1 innings. Against that putrid outing, Boston scored three times and lost 4-3. They will not get the same opportunities here against Garrett Richards. Richards has added more strikeouts and fastball velocity than any other starter from 2013 to 2014 YTD. His current 2.99 xERA provides nearly full support to his 2.53 ERA and his skills have been some of the game's best over the last month: 9.9 K’s/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 57% groundball rate. Richards almost always goes 7 innings and the Angels bullpen has been lights out recently. He’ll now face a Rex Sox team that is batting .229 over the past 15 games, which is the second lowest in the Al over that stretch.

Clay Buchholz has turned in two consecutive gems, including one against the Angels in Los Angeles on August 9. However, it took 110 and 120 pitches to get through those last two outings and there are several other reasons to be pessimistic for his rematch here. Buchholz has been awful at Fenway with a 7.00 ERA and 1.70 WHIP and the Angels have an outstanding .755 road OPS that is easily the best in the majors. Buchholz also has a BAA of .294 and an overall WHIP of 1.55. The Red Sox have lost his last five starts by scores of 6-4, 14-1, 8-7, 4-3, and 5-3. Two of those losses came against the struggling Blue Jays and one came against the struggling Yanks. Buchholz has walked 17 batters over his past 31 innings and remains a huge blow-up risk every time he takes the mound.


Atlanta +105 over PITTSBURGH

Hot versus cold. The Pirates have dropped the first two games of this series and have now dropped seven in a row. As the losses pile up in succession, it becomes more difficult to win each day. After getting smoked last night and losing to Aaron Harang, things sure don’t get easier against Alex Wood. Wood quietly has become one of the NL's most effective starters this season. He temporarily lost his rotation spot in early May, which has helped to keep him under the radar. Wood has posted top-tier stats (2.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and skills: 8.9 K’s/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 44% groundball rate. He has been even better during the past month: 10.6 K’s/9, 2.7 BB/9, 47% groundball rate. With outstanding command against both LH and RH bats and two impactful off-speed pitches (14% swing and miss rate on knuckle-curve and 14% swing and miss rate on changeup), Wood remains a great option as a dog pitching for an offense that has exploded.

Atlanta has reeled off five straight and has scored 33 times over that span in two pitchers parks. They’ll get a crack at Gerit Cole, who comes off the DL to make his first start since July 4. The Pirates will be cautious with Cole. In his last start he was throwing a one-hitter in Philadelphia after five frames and was removed after throwing 80 pitches because of right lat soreness. That was just his second start back from the DL after he was placed on it because of shoulder fatigue. One has to figure that Cole will be on a strict pitch count of 80-90 pitches. These types of injuries for a 23-year-old are worrisome because now the concern becomes the possibility that he’s made of glass. When healthy, Cole has produced strikeouts and groundballs at an intriguing rate but he’ll be a much better option when he’s not on a pitch count and when he’s not favored. Of course the Braves can win here and probably have a better chance of doing so than the Buccos.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Teddy Covers

Colorado +100

The Rockies are a true bottom feeder, entering play on Wednesday with the worst record in the NL.  They went a truly woeful 12-44 over a 56 game span from mid- June through mid- August, costing their supporters a small fortune during that extended skid.  They’re playing without injured stars Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, both out for the season.  And yet the Rockies are a clear ‘bet-on’ squad today as short home underdogs against the Royals.

Why?  Simple – they’ve got Jorge De La Rosa on the hill tonight, the undisputed King of Pitchers at Coors Field.  De La Rosa is 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA at home this year; in sharp contrast to his 4-6/5.35 on the road. That includes a 5-0 mark in his five home starts during Colorado’s long slump. The only games they’ve been winning consistently for months are the games when De La Rosa takes the hill at home.  His quote: “It is such a good place to pitch.”

This is neither new nor different.  Over the previous three years (2011-2013), De La Rosa went 13-1 at home with a 3.09 ERA, again, numbers that are far better than his results on the highway.  In fact, dating back to his first appearance at Coors Field with the Rockies in 2008, he’s 43-14 on this field; a ‘bet-on’ hurler in every sense of the word.  And with the Rockies showing signs of life – three wins in their last five games – De La Rosa is most assuredly supporting here in this underdog price range.

Danny Duffy has made one previous career start at Coors and it wasn’t pretty: five earned runs and ten baserunners allowed in five innings of work.  Duffy hasn’t thrown a quality start in his last four outings; already well past his previous career high in innings pitched this year.  I’m not expecting a gem tonight either…

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Andre Gomes

Oakland Athletics -1.5 +115

We cashed w/ OAK RL last night and for this early contest, I'm riding them once again, as we have a substantial pitching edge working for OAK IMO.

I've faded NYM's SP Zach Wheeler on his last start with no success against the Cubs. He held the Cubs to 2 runs in 6.2 IP's of work, but note that he struggled (once again) w/ his command by walking 4 batters - his 13.8% BB% rate in this month is just awful! His 10 K's were not a surprise at all as after all, CHC has been a "K" machine lately by being ranked dead last #30 in the league in K%.

This could be different against this patient OAK lineup…Here are some notes of my yesterday's play:

"Well, this bodes well for OAK's offense because they are ranked #3 in BB% this season w/ 9.1% & ranked #1 in K% w/ just 15.9% K% mark! They are super patient and they will put a lot of pressure on Gee tonight. Gee also struggles against LH batters w/ 5.66 FIP & 4.77 xFIP, and OAK will load their lineup w/ Left-Handed batters!"

Curiously, Zach Wheeler also struggles a bit vs. LH batters this season w/ .272 BA + .347 wOBA + 4.19 FIP + 4.24 xFIP stats line. No wonder he was crushed by the A's in a late June start in which he allowed 6 ER's in just 2 innings. Wheeler threw a whopping 120 pitches on his last start and had just 4 days off for this matchup = FADE SPOT!

On the other end, Jedd Samardzija has been pretty solid for OAK. He has allowed the red-hot KC lineup to 3 ER's in 6.1 IP's while having a decent 5/0 K/BB ratio. He has 3.09 FIP + 3.45 xFIP numbers in this month of August, and against this NYM lineup, I expect him to remain decent for OAK.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

MLB Predictions

Reds / Cardinals Under 7

Tonight I turn to St. Louis where two of the more premier pitchers duel it out. However, both of these offenses have left a lot to be desired. So what we have is a game where both pitchers should shine, rightfully so. Lance Lynn has been great after a so-so start to the season. 8 out of his last 10 starts he held teams to less than 3 runs, including six games where it was just a run or less. Lynn also prefers pitching in St. Louis, where his ERA dips to 2.53 compared to 3.45 on the road. One interesting thing is that almost all of his bad starts came in day starts, his ERA is 5.56 in the afternoon while it is 2.14 at night. Johnny Cueto is consistent as they come in the majors. It is nearly a guarantee that this guy isn't going to get smashed. In 26 starts this season that only happened on one occasion, 6 runs allowed way back May 20th. Take for instance his overall ERA of 2.06, and his ERA in his last three starts, 2.16. Quite similar, which certainly indicates how consistent he really is. I must add that in his last start against the Rockies he gave up only 2 runs in Colorado, a place that is home to the highest ERA's in MLB. I expect 3 runs max from Cueto in this game. Lynn should also be able to handle a Reds' lineup that is near the tail end of the league in scoring. The percentages tell us that this game should end up going UNDER the total of 7 runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Brady Kannon

SF Giants -130

A situation like probably none of us have ever seen before on Tuesday night at Wrigley. Whatta mess and boy did The Giants get the screw job. For that reason, I am taking them as a really ticked off team tonight with a horse on the hill who just notched his first win in an SF uniform last time out. I don't know if The Giants will make the post season but there have been instances in their World Series seasons that have spurred this team on. Last night at Wrigley could be one of those turning points for the 2014 club. Very interesting situation here for San Francisco and I will run with it - and don't have a problem doing so against Edwin Jackson.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Joe Williams

Royals at Rockies
Play: Rockies

Sure, the Royals have been red hot lately, going 22-5 in their past 27 games overall. But no one is hotter than Jorge De La Rosa when it comes to pitching at Coors Field. He is 43-14 in his career at the Denver park, and 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 home outings this season. The Rockies have won 21 of JDLR's past 31 outings, and they're 45-8 in his past 53 home starts. That makes Colorado a fabulous bargain at home Wednesday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Ari Atari

Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox    
Play: Los Angeles Angels -130

Take the Angels to continue winning against the Red Sox for a free pick today. LA has won 3 games in a row when Richards starts compared to the Red Sox who've lost 5 in a row under Buchholz who went 0-2 with a 6.97 in that span. Angels are winner of 6 out of 7 while Boston continues to drop games including 4 of the last 5.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Bruce Marshall

Indians at Twins
Pick: Over

Cleveland's bats are sufficiently warmed up to help the "over" tonight at Target Field. Streak hitter supreme Johnny Gomes might be ready to go on another tear after waking up last night with a 3-for-4 effort, homer and three runs scored in the Tribe's 7-5 win. This doesn't look like a pitcher's duel tonight, either, with Cleveland's T.J. House posting an 0-3 mark with a 4.74 ERA in seven road starts, while the Twins' Ricky Nolasco, recently off the DL, has posted the worst numbers (5.99 ERA) of his career this season, and has recorded a 7.20 ERA in two starts vs. the Tribe.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

Bob Balfe

Royals -105

The Royals are a better baseball team with the better starting pitcher and a much better bullpen. I get the Rockies are built for this ballpark, but they are not good against left handed pitching and these Royals have been playing very well as of late. Take Kansas City.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, August 20

LineCatchers

San Francisco Giants - 128

In my view, this is a great situational spot to play the Giants as a small road favourite tonight against the Cubs, especially what occured in last nights game. The Giants lost in a rain-shortened match up that lasted the minimum of just 4.5 innings. I like the Giants to respond in a big way tonight.

Jake Peavy will toe the rubber for the Giants and has struggled this season with a 2-12 record and 5.72 ERA over 24 starts. However, Peavy had a solid outing last time out after allowing just 1 ER in 7 IP against the White Sox and since joint the Giants has pitched to a 3.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 4 trips to the mound. He has also dominated the Cubs in 15 career starts against them, sporting a stingy 2.78 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

Chicago will send Edwin Jackson to the mound tonight and he has been one of the worst starters in the Majors this year. Jackson is 6-13 with a 5.68 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over 25 starts, whilst opposing hitters have hit a staggering .300 off him in 13 ‘Night’ starts. The Cubs are 8-17 in games that jackson has started and are 2-6 in his last 8 outings.

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